/ Kota Kinabalu area, Malaysia
Bolts preferably, as it will just be with my wife and 6-month old daughter.
Will have a car and happy to drive up to 3-4 hours from KK. Ideally, we'd need a place to stay near the climbing so if anyone knows anywhere suitable that's be great. I know it'll be hot there for climbing, but no hotter than where we are right now, so not bothered by that.
Also, any tips re any other good non-climbing stuff to do in the area? We thought about driving out to tip of Borneo for a couple of days. Anyone done it? Worth the trip? Better to arrange accommodation in advance or just show up in Kudat and walk in to one of the places there?
Any info greatly appreciated.
Climb Kinabalu (it's an easy 2 day mountain walk with a hut halfway up) - fabulous view from the top.
Dive/ snorkel at Sipadan - this was AMAZING, considered to be one of the worlds best dive sites. Loads of turtles.
Visit the Oragutan sanctuary. This would be a great option with you daughter...particularly at feeding time.
Although Sandakan itself isn't exactly a lovely town, Agnes Keith's house is pretty interesting. She was interned by the Japanese during WW2. Another recommendation for going up Kinabalu- without the baby obviously !
There is loads to do in Borneo but our experience was that is all a bit tied up by guides and tour operators. It seemed quite difficult to do anything independently. Certainly KK is the place to organise things. There is loads of climbing on Mt Kinabalu but I don't know how much of it is suitable for 6 year olds.
The orang-utan sanctuary near Sandakan will be great for the nipper. We also stayed in the jungle further south and were lucky enough to see some Orangs in the wild, which was unforgettable.
Also we went to some hot-springs south of Mt Kinabalu which were fun for a day.
It's easy to underestimate the affect of altitude on Kinabalu if you're not used to being so high. My daughter (late 20's and pretty aerobically fit at sea level) failed to make the summit, and had to retreat to the hut - whilst her non climbing ex made it all the way to the top.
There is of course climbing on Kinabalu itself, but it's a hell of a walk-in, as it's all on the summit plateau.
I've just looked this up, but there aren't many entries for Sabah:
I was surprised to find on this site an old picture of myself climbing on Kinabalu!
The heat and humidity at lower altitides are crippling when you try to do anything strenuous, but you probably realise that already.
Had considered Mt Kinanalu, but it seems all tied up with daft tours. It sounds like it's compulsory to spend 2 nights at the lodge in the park if you want to climb the peak nowadays.
Plus they say explicity "no infants or children" on the lodge website, so I wrote off that option straight away.
Is it really possible to just walk into the park, hike up and climb???? Has anyone actually done this in recent years without associated bullshit (i.e. compulsory nights in lodges, bans on kids etc).
Our daughter is 6 months old - not 6 years. Again, that would make it difficult, but not impossible.
Both my wife and I have been climbing and trekking at higher altitude in recent years so not worried about that. We'd take all the usual precautions with altitude...go slowly etc. The heat low down would probably be a bigger problem!!!
Do you have to remain based in KK or could you travel on somewhere and stay somewhere a short flight/drive away? If so how long are you in the area for and what else are you doing whilst your in Borneo then I can probably suggest a few options to look at. I live in Miri, Sarawak (on Borneo, just the other side of Brunei).
With regards to the comments on guides and similar. If you're coming from outside the country it's much easier to just book organised tours with a guide. You can just turn up to lots of these places without a guide but be aware information published on websites (feeding times for Sepilok, opening hours, etc) is often wrong. Sepilok and the Proboscis monkey sanctuary you could just turn up without a guide. Phone them first to check the feeding times though.
Mount Kinabalu you would need a guide for. http://www.mountaintorq.com/location came up with a good package for me including the summit, two days of guided climbing (bolt clipping) and the via feratta. Haven't actually had the time to go yet but they were really helpful. I would also ask to do the longer walk in (same altitude gain but longer distance) as it's supposed to be a much nicer walk.
Climbing options wise have a chat with the guys at http://sabahbah.com/activities/sabah-indoor-climbing-centre/. They'll be able to advise on where you can go outside. I would plan to climb either early morning or around dusk (though wear lots of bug spray) or at night due to the temperatures. Trying to climb in the midday heat is just not worthwhile (especially if your trying something small and crimpy.
Lots of good advice here. The only thing I'd add is see Mulu Caves. Wonderful part of the world. Kinabalu is my favorite mountain walk and it's easy to do the odd scramble when up their like the very photogenic south peak.
Mulu's one or two flights from KK dependant on which option you go for (40-60minute flights). It's well worth going but you do need to book if you want to do any of the more adventorous tours (adventure caving or pinacles or gunung mulu). You can always get on the deer and lang cave and cave of the winds and clearwater cave tours. If you go to clearwater cave make sure you take your swimming stuff. I'd also recommend walking the botanic trail as the orchids are spectacular and doing the canopy skywalk as it gives you a totally different view of the forest.
I was often told the booking was full on Borneo but if I was interested went anyway and nearly always there was loads of space and someone always fitted us in. I did Gunung Mulu and Pinnacles with no guide I guess they have stopped that then. Malaysian beurocracy can never be fully trusted.
There's now normally a park ranger somewhere along the boardwalk near the turnoff to try and stop people going unguided. Why I'm not sure but I'd guess it's because lots of people underestimate the difficulty of walking in this climate. If your not acclimatised then a 10km walk can be incredibly challenging and lots of people significantly underestimate the water required.
Booking wise if they've told you it's full that's because that's the maximum number of guests they want to take. If you just turn up Malaysian hospitality means they will do everything they can to fit you in. Whether you should take advantage of this or not is a different matter.
Regarding Mulu - if you do go stay at the national park. The chalets there are absolutely lovely and it means you can grab a shower or get changed between activities. If your staying at the mulu resort you have to get a shuttle bus or taxi so don't have time to go back between morning and afternoon activities. Also the laksa from the park cafe is fantastic.
For a two day itinary from KK I would do: fly KK to Sandakan, sepilok (orangutans) then kinabatangan river (see wildlife such as monkey's, crocodiles, snakes, hopefully elephants) and stay overnight at one of the lodges then proboscis monkey sanctuary and maybe the birds nest cave (but only because we saw a wild orangutan and baby outside it) on the way back to the airport to come back to KK.
If you do Mulu you'll want at least three days.
When I climbed Kinabalu the park was officially full and yet in fact it was half empty. Communication just doesn't work sometimes in Malaysia and that is nothing to do with hospitality and even when it is nearly full the extra few does little harm and brings more money into the area. That's all before you think about the affects of haze on flights to the smaller airports: you need to retain timetable flexibility with small flights especially if going places well inland, like Bari to see the native longhouses.
We hitched across to Sandakan from the Poring Hot Springs (another traditional tourist spot but a bit overrated). This trip is good to see from the depressing sense of mass jungle wrecking. Another thing to look out for is all the long march stuff relating to the way the Japanese treated prisoners of war.
I can't imagine blocked British mountaineers on the boardwalk as they will have thought about it and got up before the block arrives. My experience of jungle trecking (about two weeks in total including a 7 day trip to climb Gunung Tahan with a native guide and a 2 day guided trip from Mulu to Brunei along the headhunter trail) was the walking was fine with basic precautions and cold was the unexpected threat, especially in heavy rain high up (we took lightweight thermal base-layers for an emergency and were glad to have them).
If you make it to Sarawak, near Kuching, there is good bolted-sport climbing there.
There is a place called Fairy Cave, which is a brilliant venue with a lot of hard sport routes (7 upwards) and not many options in the easier grades (maybe 15-20 6a-6c routes?), but its definitely worth a trip if you are nearby. The bolting is excellent, the routes are on ridiculously overhanging
rock, and some require some adventurous rope-ladder climbing to get to the start.
Fairy Cave itself is also beautiful and quite amazing ;)
I was there in 2006, things might have changed since then.
There's no need to sign-on for any tour to climb Kinabalu, but a guide is compulsory. You can hire a guide at the park gate without any difficulty. All you need to do is turn-up.
Most people climb it over a couple of days and stay over at the hut, but I did bump into a bloke who climbed it in one hit from the park gate. I'm fairly sure that the guide would be happy to climb the mountain with you in one long day. It would be a pretty rapid ascent to 4000m+, mind.
I'm not sure this kind of thing would work on a family holiday...might be a better idea to head to one of the other destinations!
As I said - I am no longer interested in climbing Kinabalu on this trip...but thanks for the info anyhow.
The bolted stuff at the Fairy Cave sounds like it'll work well if we can make it over that way, so thanks for the info Krzys.
Thanks to all for the replies - we will definitely do some diving and visit some of the wildlife spots. Cheers.
That's not communication problems. That's them trying to limit the numbers to manage the damage caused to the park.
Really? I know some rich important people in the country who say it is plain incompetence. They also said the very best wood was logged before the park was formed. The carnage across Sabah hardly indicates a conservationalist spirit.
In reply to Peak DJ. Mulu and Kinabalu are unique world heritage sites recommended by a bunch of climbers here and you intend to head for some bolted climbing??
I'm sure Everest is fantastic, but we won't be going there either right now...world heritage site or not.
Based on your logic, I take it you jet off to the Alps every weekend instead of climbing on some crappy 10m grit crag then? ;) Convenience, family circumstances and time limits never being a consideration...
Having read all the replies, Kinabalu just wont work well for us this time...
So in short - yes - I will be going to do some bolted climbing and saving Kinabalu for another time. That sounds like the best option given our timings, family situation etc. Thanks for the advice anyhow,..
Sorry, but when Id been told that Fairy Caves are nothing special and a long day trip from Kutching and if you are based in KK, Mulu and Kinabalu are both stunning world class venues and way more accessible and family friendly what was I supposed to say?
sorry...may have been a bit blunt there. Re climbing, I asked for recommendations for bolted stuff in my original post. That fits our situation best due to family circumstances and time limitations.
Obviously, we had considered Mt Kinabalu before I even posted, as that would be the obvious choice - except for the fact that it isn't ideal with our 6-month old daughter - for a number of reasons. I also don't like the idea of a compulsory guide for a walk up a mountain. Whatever the reasons for making guides compulsory, it just isn't what I'm looking for when I go to the hills or mountains.
Try the Batu caves bolted stuff if you are in KL for a day or so. There is also an excellent indoor climbing wall in the One Utama shopping centre in Bandar Utama, next to PJ, half an hour from KL.
Mulu is kid friendly. Watching a million Swallows change shifts with a million Bats at a huge cave mouth is unforgettable.
Done the KL thing a few times. Thought Batu caves was good for the temple but pretty crappy for the climbing. We tried to go to Nyamuk wall, then realised why it has that name pretty quickly!!! The local climbers were super friendly though and we had fun chatting to them.
The camp 4 wall in KL is superb (in fact we abandoned Batu caves after one day and just climbed there for the rest of our stay) - been there loads of times and thought it was one of the best indoor walls I have been to anywhere. Loads of the grubby walls in the UK could take lessons from the guys that run that place.
May check out Mulu next time we are in Malaysia - thanks for the tip. We will be in that part of the world a lot over the next few years so plenty of opportunities to explore.
There is also some stuff near Ipoh but I've lost touch with my contact there so cant provide details. Encouraging climbing there was partly to do with putting pressure on the cement producers trashing the lovely limestone scenery.
As it happens last month I took a bus from Cameron Highlands to Penang via Ipoh. I got glimpses of a lot of limestone scenery through the bus window, but the scale of the quarrying in the area near Ipoh is amazing.
No doubt Dr Mahathir would point out that we Brits defaced our scenery (like around Buxton and Llanberis) years ago, so the Malaysians should be free to do the same to theirs.
Similarly, here in China, the scale of quarrying is HUGE. The quarrying in the Buxton and Llanberis areas doesn't even come close to what I've witnessed here. I may take some pics next time I am passing one of the bigger sites, but I tend to stay away because of the dust! Literally, whole mountains have been destroyed or half destroyed.... the slate quarries are big, but not that big by comparison.
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